Men & Liberation
Author Geoff Muirden

Geoff Muirden is a Research Officer for the Australian Civil Liberties Union,
web site

Fresh submission from ACLU
Secretary, Senate Legal & Constititutional Committee,  Suite S1.108,
Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600
Dear Sirs/Madams,
It is a matter for concern that in a "democracy", the  public is not being
given sufficient time to comment on this legislation.Notice  of less than a
fortnight has been given for the public to comment on this bulky
legislation, suggesting that the government is not really interested in
what the  public thinks, but simply wants to force the legislation through
regardless of  any sense of accountability to the public.

Since there is some overlap in the terms of references of the  bills that
the govt would like to shove through Parliament, this submission is  being
sent to two committees at once.
This mainly has reference to the bills:
1.ASIO Legislation Amendment Bill 2002;
2.Border Security Bill 2002;
3.Criminal Code Amendment Espionage Bill 2002;
4.Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2002;
5.Suppression of Terrorist Bombings Bill 2002;
6.Suppresson of Financing Terrorism Bill 2002 and
7. Telecommunications Interception Legislation Amendment Bill  2002 which
can be used to "justify" hacking in a way that should not be  tolerated by
a democracy and should not be acceptable.

The Government is proceeding on the assumption that the Sept.  11
,2001outrage was simply the result of an irrational Al-Qaeda attack and
ignores the reasons for the attack- in particular U.S. policies in relation
to  the Middle East. It ignores claims by some specialists that Mossad,
and  sections of other intelligence agencies may have had forewarning of
the  outrage and may have been involved in the attack; and ignores the
question- who  benefits?
(Fox News, 11/12/2001)
The Sept. 11 attacks have  been used :
a) to "justify" attacks on Afghanistan to seize control of oil  reserves in
the Caspian Sea area and build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan  to
(b)to "justify" the imposition of anti-terrorist laws that are  leading to
a terrorist "garrison state" by imposing restriction on civil  liberties to
"protect citizens."
Benjamin Franklin was not fooled by such assurances. He  said:
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."(Benjamin Franklin, Historical
Review of Pennsylvania, 1759)This admonition applies as much in Australia
as in  the United States. This is what we are being advised to accept
nowadays so  that we are supposed to learn nothing from history or from the
wisdom of men  such as Franklin, who fought to preserve freedom, a freedom
which is now being  thrown away.
An erosion of civil liberties is proposed to "save us from  terrorism." No
state will ever define what it  does as "terrorism" but will whitewash its
(c) to enhance the powers of the UN to impose a globalist agenda on all
peoples in the world and to destroy national sovereignty.
The ACLU attitude to the raft of legislation being considered  by the
Senate Committee was set out in a letter to the "Herald Sun"  (29/3/02).
The letter, headed "Terror laws too savage" said:
"The Federal Government has sent six new anti-terrorist bills  to the
Senate legal and constitutional committee for public  comment.
"The public should know that these Bills include giving the
Attorney-General powers to ban organzations "likely to endanger the
security or  integrity of the Commonwealth or another country.
"The Bills, with savage penalties of up to 25 years;  imprisonment, create
new terrorist offences, which could include some union  actions, civil
disobedience and dissent, and arbitrary arrest.
"It is vital people make submissions opposing the laws and the  deadline is
Friday, April 5."

An article from "Your Rights 2002"(27th edition), on  the ACLU website says
that Australia is one of the freest countries in the  world. This
assessment will have to be significantly modified if the Bills  become law
in their present form.

The effect of the Bills, if passed in their present form, will  be to
seriously erode traditional liberties, rather than to protect us from what
is an almost non-existent threat of terrorism in Australia.

Legislation directed against whistleblowers was amended by the Parliament
in March this year (see "Your  Rights,2002" and ACLU website ) and the six "anti-terrorist  bills" should either be
significantly amended or abandoned. "Your  Rights" said that "the
proposal by the Federal Government to  impose severe penalties on public
servants who released non security-related  information to journalists, and
on journalists who published the information was  abandoned in March,2002,
due to widespread public opposition and a clear  indication that the ALP,
the Greens and the Democrats would prevent the  legislation being passed in
the Senate. The opposition of the ACLU to the  proposed changes was
reported in The New York Times and elsewhere. The  proposal was in part due
to an over reaction to the bombing of the World Trade  Centre on 11
September,2001." Aspects of the "anti terrorist bills" represent a  similar
New terrorist laws threaten democratic  rights:

   ASIO to get powers of arrest and detention for up to 48  hours;
   The removal of the right to silence when under  questioning;
   The creation of terrorist offences and related legislation  violating
   the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and  association;
   removal of privacy rights and increased powers for government  to seize
   organization's assets;
   Denial of the right to legal representation.

In the wake of the attacks in the US on 11 September  governments
throughout the "west" are planning and have implemented a number of
measures to protect against future terrorist attacks. Some of these
measures are  directed specifically against such attacks, but some of the
measures are not and  would, if implemented, affect the fundamental rights
of the people living in  these countries.
Definition of  Terrorism:
Some critics claim that the definition of  terrorist act contained in the
Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism)  Bill 2002 and Suppression of
the Financing of Terrorism Bill 2002 is  so broad in scope that it could
cover a range of political activity that should  not be described as
"terrorist" and should not attract penalties of life  imprisonment: the
criminal law such as murder, grevious bodily harm, criminal  damage and
conspiracy of aiding or abetting can and should be used to prosecute
"terrorism". The critics claim that the exemption of industrial action will
not  cover a range of industrial action such as effective picketing. The
exemption of  lawful protest, advocacy and dissent means civil disobedience
and a range of  other political activity could be labelled as terrorist.
The Government does not  appear to have taken these comments into account.

The State will never decide that  what it does is "terrorism", just as the
acts of the US government  in bombing foreign countries will not be defined
by it as "terrorism", nor will  the actions of the Israeli state in
Palestine be regarded as "terrorism."  Writers such as Noam Chomsky and
John Pilger claim that the USA is the main  source of terrorism in the
world. An article in The Australian,(4/4/02)  pointed out that in the last
5 months of WWII alone US bombing raids killed  900,000 Japanese civilians
even before the dropping of the 2 atomic bombs. More  than 700,000 German
civilians were killed by US and UK bombing in WWII. About  500,000
Vietnamese civilians were killed as a result of US policies in Vietnam.
There is a very selective use of the term "terrorism" that will not be
mentioned  in legislation but which applies nevertheless.
These bills have the potential to be used in a  selective manner to target
organizations that are opposed to what the government  or its minders want.
It could be used to target groups such as Muslim and  Al-Queda groups but
not used to target groups such as Jewish or Zionist groups  that support
terrorism in the Middle East, such as what is now going on in  Israel with
the killing of Palestinians. Since it is customary to characterise anyone
who criticises  Israel and its supporters as being guilty of so-called
"anti-Semitism" (a fact  which ignores Arabs are Semites), it should be
noted that there are Jewish  groups who oppose what is happening in the
Middle East and these include not  only the "refuseniks" in Israel who have
refused to kill Palestinians, but  also groups such as"Jews For Justice In
The Middle East", PO Box 14561,  Berkeley, CA 94712, USA, who have written
a booklet, "The Origin of the  Palestine-Israel Conflict" available from which criticises Jewish actions in
In "Your Rights 2002", available in all newsagents late  in April,2002, the
ACLU says that "a proposal to give ASIO the power to detain  Australians
without charge or legal representation for 48 hours seemed to be due  to a
similar over reaction and this proposal may also be blocked by the Senate.
Under the proposal ASIO would merely have to suspect someone of terrorist
links  to be able to detain and question them. The proposed legislation
allows for  indefinite detention without the right to silence, and prevents
access to legal  assistance.The Government seems to have confused the role
of ASIO with the role  of the FBI in the USA. Unlike the FBI, ASIO is not a
law enforcement agency and  many ASIO officials are opposed to the
proposal. The Australian Federal police  already have the power to detain
suspected terrorists."
An article by Chris Maxwell, QC, the President of Liberty  Victoria,headed
"Terror of Howard's Plans for Detention", published in  The Australian,
24/12/01, is republished in "Your Rights 2002".  The ACLU agrees with the
comments of Mr Maxwell.(See attachment)
Intentions v Deeds
The legislation regards it as legally acceptable that if  someone is
intercepted before he carries out an alleged terrorist deed, he  will be
charged as if he carried out that deed ,fails to distinguish between  deeds
and intentions. To take one example of that statement, in  "Security
Legislation Amendment(Terrorism) Bill 2002, in the General Outline, we  are
told that "It is not necessary for a terrorist act to actually occur for a
person to be prosecuted for a terrorism offence,"but it does not state that
this  failure of a terrorist act to occur means a lesser sentence. One who
murders  should receive a higher sentence than one who intends to murder or
one who tries  to murder and is prevented from doing so or one who commits
manslaughter. It also assumes that if one is part of an organization
conducting terrorism, it is as if he is liable for all the actions of that
organization, despite the fact he may not know about these alleged
terrorist  policies and may not have done it himself. If it is proved, not
merely asserted, that one is part of an organization that sets out to
perform  terrorist actions, it should also need to be demonstrated that he
knew of this  intention and planned to assist it, not just make him
automatically liable.In  short, the State should bear the burden of proof,
and be required to prove the  alleged offence has been committed.
Hacking "Justified"
The Telecommunications Interception Legislation Amendment Bill  2002 tries
to "justify" hacking email, SMS messaging, and voicemail , with the
catchall phrase "security" being used. One danger is that this power of
hacking could be used to snoop on peoples' use of the Internet and "censor"
what  they access. Its use in relation to pornography and arson is
mentioned, but not  the stretching of hacking to accommodate spying on use
of Internet services by  law abiding citizens.See article in "Your Rights
2002" and on ACLU  website.
Whereas the demand for "accountability" on the part of  citizens, including
the demand that they prove that they are innocent and not  just guilty as
charged, there is little emphasis on the way in which ASIO, as a  secret
organization, could abuse its powers and be accountable to the citizens.
It already has excessive powers, but its powers should be reined
in.Instead, they are to be widened, with little public scrutiny. (SeeACLU
website for previous ACLU submissions on ASIO)
The Bills should be consdered with Australia's traditional  respect for
civil liberties and should not slavishly follow UN  conventions.
"Criminal Code Amendment(Suppression of Terrorist Bombings) Bill  2002"
mentions that it derives from the UN "International Convention for the
Suppression of Terrorist Bombings" ; and "Suppression of the Financing of
Terrorism Bill 2002" mentions that it derives from the UN Security Council
Resolution 1373 and the (UN)International Convention for the Suppression of
the  Financing of Terrorism. It mentions that "Australia has signed the
Convention  and the Government intends to ratify the Convention in the near
future, subject  to the usual "consultation processes." Some of us wonder
the extent to which the  public voice will have any impact on "consultation
processes."It will doubtless  be "more honoured in the breach than in the
Proceeds of Crime Bill
The Proceeds of Crime Bill 2002 will give effect to the Article 8 of the
(UN)Convention, which requires State parties to take appropriate measures
to  provide for the forfeiture of property that is the proceeds of
terrorist  activity or that it has been used, or is intended to be used, in
terrorist  activity."
The Proceeds of Crime Bill is based on forfeiture principles that have been
used in a draconian fashion overseas to seize peoples' properties and deny
them  proper legal representation.
(See ACLU website for general comments on confiscation of assets- chapter
19 "Your Rights 2002"-attachment to this submission)
Banning of  Organisations
New legislation will be introduced based on the UK Terrorism Act 2000. This
act allows the government to ban organizations and makes it an offence to
be a  member, attend a meeting, provide any support, and indeed even wear a
T-shirt  with the organization's symbol. As one critic has said, support
for Nelson  Mandela's ANC would have been banned if these laws had been in
place during the  time of the anti-apartheid movement. In Australia,
support for the East  Timorese's independence movement could have been

If Australia adopts the European model, the scope could be even wider. The
European Parliament is currently discussing new laws which would define
terrorism as any offences which "aim to seriously prejudice the political,
economic or social structures of a country". Such a definition might
include  anyone arrested at protests about the environment, corporate
globalisation,  native title, or asylum seekers or union members taking
industrial action.
Trade Union groups claim that the criteria for banning such as "likely to
endanger the security or integrity of the Commonwealth or another country"
are so broad that this law could be used to outlaw political opponents of
government policies in Australia and internationally. The offences of
"membership" or "assisting" would mean people even marginally connected to
the  organization could face up to 25 years imprisonment. The trade union
groups do  not accept that review of the Attorney-General's decision under
the ADJR Act  will provide any safeguards as the law is so broad in scope
any banning however  unjust would probably be lawful,and claim that like
the Menzies' Communist  Party Dissolution Act,this section of the Act may
be  unconstitutional.
This should be treated  only as a preliminary submission. More time should
be allowed for debate and  submissions when so many of our civil liberties
are under threat- paradoxically  under the guise of protecting our civil
liberties. We should not be stampeded  into adopting "copycat" laws, which
are probably largely unnecessary, at least  in Australia, and may be hard
to repeal in the absence of any sunset clauses  when any perceived danger
has passed.
Geoff. Muirden, Research Officer, Australian Civil Liberties Union ,
(Hard copy of attachments to be forwarded by (snail)mail:
1. Confiscation of Assets (ACLU website);
2. Extract from "Your Rights 2002" 27th edition, on 48 hour  detention by
3.Copy of front and back cover of "Your Rights 2002";
4. Overview of Freedom of speech and big brother chapter ("Your Rights
5. ACLU annual report for 2001;
6. Australia-a free country (ACLU website)
7. Previous ACLU submissions on ASIO;
8."Big Brother" articles published in "Your Rights 2002." "You are  being

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